Tenant with live in boyfriend (and dog)

9 Replies

I have a tenant whose boyfriend is essentially living there now.  The lease states that no one can stay more than 15 days without being on the lease.  She says he stays at his own place about once every 10 days (conveniently, to get around the 15 day limit).  It has been going on for a few months but I've waited a bit to see if she would tell me.  She seems to also have other people and pets staying off and on.  I want to make sure I'm not starting a pattern of leniency but I am not sure what action is in my best interest.  Would you make the boyfriend sign the lease or would that cause more problems for me later?  I'm thinking about requiring an extra security deposit and $25 monthly fee for the extra dog he brings.  Here is what the lease actually states:

Guest(s) staying over 15 days without the written consent of OWNER shall be considered a breach of this agreement. ONLY the following individuals and/or animals, AND NO OTHERS shall occupy the subject residence for more than 15 days unless the expressed written consent of OWNER obtained in advance . 

I don't think you can actually make him SIGN the lease, and I am not sure you would want to.  What you can do about security deposits is going to depend on your state law.  Here, I can't do anything to modify the deposit after the fact. 

I do think you have a right to know who is staying there.  That lease language is a little ambiguous, you could read it as saying that as long as the guest is not there more than 15 consecutive days they don't need to tell you, where presumably what you actually want is to know about anyone who is there for long lengths of time.

My general rule of thumb is to remember that tenants get to live their lives, have guests, etc.  If there is a couple getting serious enough to be spending most nights together but is not yet at the "move in together" phase, my general inclination would be to let it go, and address it at lease renewal.

Is the Boyfriend being a problem?  An extra dog is a problem.  Once you identify why it is a stress point for you and the property then you can create a solution based on that.

Medium logo640x400Troy Fisher, Lanika Home Inspections | [email protected] | http://www.lanikahis.com

Sorry I don't really have any advice on how you can immediately remedy the situation. You may have to chalk this up as one of those "lessons learned" moments and correct your lease going forward (We've all been thru it). It's crappy to do but it does look like they found a loophole that they're exploiting. Going forward I would add something to the effect of 

"Guest(s) staying over 15 days PER MONTH without the written consent of OWNER shall be considered a breach of this agreement"

I would also check your local laws on established residency, cause if in your area a person is considered a resident after staying there for 2 weeks then you would want to make sure they're not allowed to stay more than that amount of time.

I'm trying to weigh out how important this is.  If it was just the boyfriend I wouldn't be as concerned.  Adding another dog (it is a small place) is concerning.  She also seems to be providing housing to other people and pets off and on from what my handyman says. I like to not mention what I know from the handyman to my tenants though because that is how I get the inside scoop about what is going on.  (For some reason they tell him everything)  It is the pattern that I'm concerned about which then makes me concerned about having a boyfriend there basically 28 out of 31 days per month.  As long as there are no complains and damages I can wait until the next lease to add him.  I think I could add rent for the dog though, right - even if it is his? Here is the pet policy:

PETS: No animal, fowl, fish, reptile, and/or pet of any kind shall be kept on or about the premises, for any amount of time, without obtaining the prior written consent and meeting the requirements of the OWNER. Such consent if granted, shall be revocable at OWNER'S option upon giving a 30 day written notice. In the event laws are passed or permission is granted to have a pet and/or animal of any kind, an additional deposit in the amount of $__200_______ shall be required along with additional monthly rent of $__25_____. 

@Carrie Pledger  

I just went through this with one of my tenants. The boyfriend who at lease signing only stayed "occasionally" was there anytime I drove by or stopped to inspect. Even the neighbor thought the boyfriend had moved in. I addressed it with the tenant and she assured me that he has his own place and does not live there. Only her and her daughter live there and I had adjusted the asking rent down knowing that they would be easier on the wear and tear and utilities than more people.

I let it go until lease renewal and told her that I would like to add the boyfriend since he is there all the time. Since I do background checks on all my tenants, I like to know that I have good people living there. I feel that it also makes the neighbors feel safe knowing that as well. She did not want him listed on the lease. I even gave her the option of listing him as a temporary guest on the lease and have him provide proof that he lives somewhere else, and do a background check. She didn't go for that either. She decided to move out. That's fine. Obviously, they were trying to hide something.

I also would be concerned about the dog. If she didn't get permission to even have the dog on the property, even for a short time, then she is breaking the lease.

Originally posted by @Carrie Pledger:

I have a tenant whose boyfriend is essentially living there now.  The lease states that no one can stay more than 15 days without being on the lease.  She says he stays at his own place about once every 10 days (conveniently, to get around the 15 day limit).  It has been going on for a few months but I've waited a bit to see if she would tell me.  She seems to also have other people and pets staying off and on.  I want to make sure I'm not starting a pattern of leniency but I am not sure what action is in my best interest.  Would you make the boyfriend sign the lease or would that cause more problems for me later?  I'm thinking about requiring an extra security deposit and $25 monthly fee for the extra dog he brings.  Here is what the lease actually states:

Guest(s) staying over 15 days without the written consent of OWNER shall be considered a breach of this agreement. ONLY the following individuals and/or animals, AND NO OTHERS shall occupy the subject residence for more than 15 days unless the expressed written consent of OWNER obtained in advance . 

Going forward, our lease says something to the effect that no one can stay for more than 10 days or 15 total days in the year. Check your lease, if it says that she has admitted to violating the lease.

Medium apartment logoAndrew Syrios, Stewardship Investments | http://www.StewardshipProperties.com | Podcast Guest on Show #121

Originally posted by @Carrie Pledger:

I have a tenant whose boyfriend is essentially living there now.  The lease states that no one can stay more than 15 days without being on the lease.  She says he stays at his own place about once every 10 days (conveniently, to get around the 15 day limit).  It has been going on for a few months but I've waited a bit to see if she would tell me.  She seems to also have other people and pets staying off and on.  I want to make sure I'm not starting a pattern of leniency but I am not sure what action is in my best interest.  Would you make the boyfriend sign the lease or would that cause more problems for me later?  I'm thinking about requiring an extra security deposit and $25 monthly fee for the extra dog he brings.  Here is what the lease actually states:

Guest(s) staying over 15 days without the written consent of OWNER shall be considered a breach of this agreement. ONLY the following individuals and/or animals, AND NO OTHERS shall occupy the subject residence for more than 15 days unless the expressed written consent of OWNER obtained in advance . 

 If she is violation of her lease you can send a non-compliance notice and offers remedies such as: 

1. Paying the extra monthly fee, ask for pet deposit, have the boyfriend to fill out an application and got through the same process as he would be applying for the unit. 

2. Worst case scenario you start the eviction process after a 7 day notice for non-compliance. 

Check your lease and state laws. 

@Carrie Pledger  

You need to be firm, fair and swift. The tenant is clearly violating the terms of your rental agreement. The first step is to contact her and talk with her about it. At the same time, serve her with a "Notice to Comply". Don't delay. Serve the notice according to the laws of your jurisdiction. Even if you can't meet with her, serve the notice immediately. Actually a notice for every lease violation. One for "Unauthorized Occupant" and another for the "Unauthorized Pet".

Also, serve a "Notice to Enter".  You need to get in the unit as soon as possible to make sure she is not violating other terms of your rental agreement.  Look for damages and for evidence of occupancy of other people and other pets. I suspect your unit has already sustained a significant amount of damage by now, since you said there have been other people and pets staying off and on.

Identify the damages and charge for them now. Don't wait for the end of tenancy to deduct the damages from the security deposit, as the chances of the security deposit being enough are slim.

If your lease has terms that allow you to charge fees for non-compliiance, do so. If your rental agreement does not, consider revising your lease to include such and do so as soon as you can.

We prefer Month-to-Month agreements over longer term leases, because they allow us greater flexibility to change terms and remove tenants as needed. 

This tenant is clearly a rule breaker and you need to either bring her into line or move her out. You can turn this around!  As always, remain calm... polite... firm... fair.  Don't focus on the problem... focus on the solution!

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Originally posted by @Carrie Pledger:

Here is what the lease actually states: Guest(s) staying over 15 days without the written consent of OWNER shall be considered a breach of this agreement. ONLY the following individuals and/or animals, AND NO OTHERS shall occupy the subject residence for more than 15 days unless the expressed written consent of OWNER obtained in advance . 

You know and your tenant knows the intent of this term of your rental agreement. It does not say 15 consecutive days. It says 15 days. The boyfriend has stayed more than 15 days and you did not give written consent. The tenant has breached the agreement. Call it like it is.

As others have said, in the future, when you revise your lease, make it even more clear.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83